The Higher Education and Scientific Research Ministry decided to put an end to new Yemeni government scholarships to private Malaysian universities due to the private universities’ poor educational quality and high costs, the ministry said. It has also decided to withdraw financial support from students at any level (graduate or undergraduate) if their academic performance has been less than excellent.
Ahmed Al-Rabei, director of scholarships at the ministry, told the Yemen Times that, in Malaysia, a private university education is inferior to a public university education, and in addition, the tuition and fees of private universities are triple those of public universities. The cost of attending a public Malaysian university is approximately $1,500 per year, while the cost of an education at a private university is about $4,500.
There are about 9,000 Yemeni students studying in Malaysia—nearly 4,000 of them in private universities. The new rule applies to incoming students. Current students studying at private universities in Malaysia will be permitted to finish their education, but the ministry will only cover $1,500 per year in tuition fees, plus a stipend.
“Private Malaysian universities are for-profit institutions. Their agents in Yemen sign up students without any kind of admissions requirements. After students enroll at a private university, they start asking the Yemeni government to pay their full tuition and fees—$4,500. However, the ministry will only pay $1,500 per student per year for tuition and fees plus a monthly stipend of $300. The government is under no obligation to pay the additional cost of a private university,” said Rabei.
In August of 2013, a committee was sent to Malaysia to address Yemeni students’ issues. Al-Rabei said they were able to resolve the issues of Yemeni students studying at public universities. However, some problems of private university students remain unresolved. Some of those students have been accumulating debt for as many as six years.
Ewadh Ali, a student at the International Islamic University, a public university, said, “Some students choose private universities because their programs are not very demanding. [The year that] I started at the university, the majority of the other new Yemeni students soon transferred to private universities.”
Yemeni students in Malaysia held several protests in 2013, calling for an increase in their monthly payments. Students say current stipends barely cover living expenses. Their protests have so far been unsuccessful.